Most colleges and universities do not themselves transport hazardous waste, treat hazardous waste, or operate a hazardous waste disposal facility. Accordingly, the aspects of the regulations governing these activities are not addressed in the tour. More typically, your facility generates, stores and sends off site for disposal its hazardous wastes. Acidic waste generated from the etching process may be hazardous. Often times the acid waste is nitric acid and ferric chloride that may also contain metals such as zinc and copper. In either case, employees shouldn't assume that etching waste can be placed in the trash or poured down the drain without asking supervisors about their hazardous waste status. The text that follows provides a description of the Federal storage and disposal requirements of hazardous waste based on the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA). Many states also have their own, sometimes more stringent, regulations.
Hazardous Waste Definition
In general, a hazardous waste is a solid waste that is not exempt from regulation as a hazardous waste and that is either "listed" as a hazardous waste (according to the provisions of 40 CFR 261.30 - 261.33) or is "characteristically" hazardous. In the latter case, one of the following must be true:
- Ignitability. Liquid waste that has a flash point below 140 °F, and therefore has the "characteristic of ignitability" is a hazardous wasted as defined in 40 CFR 261.21. The flash point is the temperature at which a material produces sufficient vapor to ignite in the presence of an ignition source such as an electrical spark or a lit match. The flash point refers to the temperature of the material itself, rather than to the temperature of the air around the material. Ignitable non-liquid waste is defined as a waste that is capable, under standard temperature and pressure, of causing fire through friction, absorption of moisture or spontaneous chemical changes and, when ignited, burns so vigorously and persistently that it creates a hazard. Ignitable compressed gas is defined in 49 CFR 173.300 or by the test methods in 40 CFR 260.20 and 260.21; and oxidizers as defined in 40 CFR 173.151 are characteristically ignitable.
- Corrosivity. Aqueous waste that has a pH less than or equal to 2 or greater than or equal to 12.5, meets the definition of "characteristic of corrosivity" as defined in 40 CFR 261.22. A material with a pH below 2 is strongly acidic, while a material with a pH above 12.5 is strongly "basic." Materials with high pH values are also called alkaline or caustic. Liquid waste that corrodes steel at a rate greater than 6.35 mm (0.250 inch) per year are also defined as corrosive.
- Reactivity. A waste is characterized as reactive if it exhibits the "characteristic of reactivity" as defined in 40 CFR 261.23. This includes waste that is normally unstable and undergoes violent change without detonating, waste that is capable of detonation or exploding, or waste that reacts violently or forms potentially explosive mixtures or toxic gases when mixed with water. It also includes any cyanide- or sulfide-bearing waste that can generate toxic gases when exposed to pH conditions between 2 and 12.5. Lastly, it encompasses forbidden explosives (49 CFR 173.51), Class A explosives (49 CFR 173.53) and Class B explosives (49 CFR 173.88).
- Toxicity. This definition applies to a waste that, when subjected to a laboratory test called the Toxicity Characteristic Leaching Procedure (TCLP), has results that exceed any of the threshold values listed in 40 CFR 261.24. Such wastes are said to be "TCLP positive" and to have the "characteristic of toxicity."
Examples of constituents covered by the TCLP test include, but are not limited to:
- Carbon tetrachloride
- Vinyl chloride
For listed wastes, EPA developed four lists (i.e., "F," "K," "P," and "U" lists) covering different types of hazardous wastes, which are summarized as follows:
F-wastes are hazardous wastes from nonspecific sources, manufacturing process wastes produced from a variety of operations, hence "nonspecific sources." These include, but are not limited to: spent solvents, wastes from heat treating operations, dioxin wastes, wood preserving wastes, and sludges from wastewater treatment systems in petroleum refineries. (40 CFR 262.31)
K-listed wastes are hazardous wastes from specific industries and, in turn, specific sources. (40 CFR 262.32)
P-listed and U-listed wastes are hazardous wastes that are discarded commercial chemical products, off-specification species, container residues, and spill residues. P-listed wastes are acute hazardous wastes (i.e., they have extremely hazardous properties). U-listed wastes are chemical wastes that EPA found to meet several criteria, including having toxic, carcinogenic, mutagenic or teratogenic characteristics. (40 CFR 261.33)
Generators may encounter problems with properly identifying their hazardous wastes as P or U listed wastes. Generators may determine that a waste has one or more chemicals found on the P and/or U lists and then assign the P or U listed waste code to the waste and manage it as such. For example, if a generator has a waste that is an unused mercury containing thermometer, even though it contains mercury, because "thermometer" does not appear on the P or U list, this is not a listed waste. This waste item, however, would likely be a hazardous waste for failing the TCLP test for mercury (D009); hence, it would be a characteristically hazardous waste. On the other hand, unused mercury in a glass jar labeled "mercury" is a listed hazardous waste, because "mercury" appears on the U-list.
Waste solvents and chemical solutions used for extractions, purifications, standards, etc., may also be classified as hazardous waste.
The Resource, Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) hazardous-waste regulations separate generators of hazardous waste into three categories based on the quantity generated, as follows:
- Conditionally exempt small-quantity generators (CESQGs) generate no more than 100 kilograms (220 pounds) of hazardous waste in a calendar month.
- Small-quantity generators (SQGs) generate 100 kilograms (220 pounds) to 1,000 kilograms (2,200 pounds) of hazardous waste in a calendar month.
- Large-quantity generators (LQGs) generate more than 1,000 kilograms (2,200 pounds) of hazardous waste in a calendar month.
Small-quantity generators are defined as "generators of greater than 100 kg but less than 1,000 kg in a calendar month." Requirements for "generators" always apply to LQGs but may not apply to SQGs or CESQGs. Generator status is based on the monthly total of all hazardous waste generated, not the quantity of each type of hazardous waste. Hazardous waste generator status is not averaged; rather, it is determined separately for each calendar month, based on the actual quantity of hazardous waste generated. In addition, total volume limits cannot be exceeded (e.g., small quantity generators may not store more than 6,000 kilograms of hazardous waste on site at any time).
SQGs and LQGs must mark containers used to store hazardous waste with the words "Hazardous Waste" and with the date on which hazardous waste was first placed in the container (40 CFR 262.34). State and local regulations may also address container labeling. For example, Massachusetts' regulations require container labels to include a description of the hazard.
Facilities must label, mark and placard containers of hazardous waste in accordance with the regulations of the U.S. Department of Transportation, which are found in 49 CFR 172. For example, facilities must permanently mark each container of 110 gallons or less that is used for transportation of hazardous waste as follows:
HAZARDOUS WASTE--FEDERAL LAW PROHIBITS IMPROPER DISPOSAL.
If found, contact the nearest police or public safety authority or the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
Generator's Name and Address____________________________
Manifest Document Number______________________________
A contract with a hazardous waste disposal contractor does not affect the responsibility of the generator to ensure compliance with the labeling, marking and placard requirements.
CESQG facilities are not required to use manifests. They are, however, required to ensure delivery of the hazardous waste to a permitted hazardous waste treatment or disposal facility, or to a facility that reuses, recycles or reclaims the hazardous waste (40 CFR 261.5(g)(3)). They should also obtain from hazardous waste contractors receipts that list the EPA or state identification numbers of the transporter and the facility to which the waste is to be taken. SQG and LQG facilities must consign hazardous waste only to transporters and hazardous-waste management facilities that have EPA identification numbers (40 CFR 262.12(c)). SQGs are excused from the manifest requirement under the following circumstances (40 CFR 262.20(e)):
- The hazardous waste is reclaimed under a contractual agreement.
- The agreement specifies the type of waste involved and the frequency of pickup.
- The agreement specifies that vehicles to be used to transport the waste to the recycling facility and to deliver regenerated material to the generator are owned and operated by the reclaimer.
- The generator maintains a copy of the reclamation agreement in its files for at least three years after termination of the agreement.
Storage - Satellite Accumulation
Limited quantities of hazardous waste can be stored near their point of generation, under the control of the operator of the process generating the waste. These storage areas are referred to as satellite accumulation areas. When a container of hazardous waste becomes full or when the allowable quantity of waste for a satellite accumulation area is reached, waste must be moved to a centralized storage area. These centralized storage areas are commonly referred to as less than 90 day or less than 180 day storage areas. The number of days signifies how long the waste can remain in the storage area. LQGs may store hazardous waste for up to 90 days, while SQGs can store hazardous waste for up to 180 days.
Although requirements may vary in some states, satellite accumulation includes hazardous waste stored at SQG and LQG facilities that meets the following criteria (40 CFR 262.34(c)):
- The hazardous waste is stored in containers at or near the point of generation.
- No more than 55 gallons of hazardous waste (or one quart of acutely hazardous waste) is stored at each generation point.
- While the facility is operating, the stored hazardous waste is under the control of the operator of the process generating the waste.
- Storage containers are in good condition and compatible with the waste (40 CFR 265.171, 265.172).
- Storage containers are kept closed except when waste is added or removed (40 CFR 265.173(a)).
- Storage containers are labeled with the words "Hazardous Waste" or with other words that identify the contents (40 CFR 262.34(c)(1)(ii)).
Storage - Less than 90/180 Day Storage Requirements
Once a container's volume limit is exceeded in a Satellite Accumulation Area, the container must be dated and shipped to a permitted hazardous waste treatment, storage or disposal facility (TSDF) within 90 days for large quantity generators (LQGs) or 180 days for small quantity generators (SQGs). For SQGs, the total volume of waste accumulated on-site may not exceed 6,000 kilograms (kg), and for CESQGs, the total volume may not exceed 10,000 kg.
The start date for storage of waste in the hazardous waste accumulation area is considered to be the date when the container is first used to store waste in the hazardous waste accumulation area. For wastes transferred to the hazardous waste accumulation area, the date that waste is first placed in the container in the SAA is not critical; rather, the date that the volume limit for the SAA is exceeded is the important one with respect to the calculation of the 90 day or 180 day storage limit. For unknown wastes that may be undergoing analysis the start date is the date the material is identified as a waste, not when lab results are received. Containers must be shipped to a TSDF within the specified time limit regardless of whether or not the container is full.
Hazardous waste stored in containers (other requirements apply to hazardous waste in tanks) at a SQG or LQG facility that is not stored in a satellite accumulation area must comply with the following requirements:
- Storage containers must be in good condition and must be compatible with the waste (40 CFR 265.171, 265.172).
- Storage containers must be kept closed except when waste is added or removed (40 CFR 265.173(a)).
- Storage containers must not be opened, handled, or stored in a manner which may rupture the container or cause it to leak (40 CFR 265.173(b)).
- Areas where containers are stored must be inspected at least weekly for leaks and for deterioration caused by corrosion or other factors (40 CFR 265.174).
- A large-quantity generator facility may not store waste for more than 90 days without a hazardous waste facility permit, but there is no limit on quantity (40 CFR 262.34(a)).
- Without a hazardous waste facility permit, a small-quantity generator facility may not store hazardous waste for more than 180 days or in quantities exceeding 6,000 kilograms (13,200 pounds) (40 CFR 262.34(d)).
- If your school stores hazardous waste for longer than the allowed time period (i.e., 90 or 180 days), the Treatment, Storage and Disposal (TSD) Requirements of 40 CFR 264/265 must be met. These requirements include, but are not limited to: waste analysis, site security, inspection, recordkeeping, reporting, closure/post-closure, financial security and others. Links to these regulations can be found at the end of this section.
- Containers holding ignitable or reactive waste must be located at least 50 feet from the facility's property line and the owner or operator must take precautions to prevent accidental ignition or reaction of ignitable or reactive waste (40 CFR 265.176 and 40 CFR 265.17). [This does not apply to SQGs.]
- Incompatible wastes and materials under certain conditions specified by RCRA, may be mixed or commingled, but only providing that it does not: generate extreme heat or pressure, fire or explosion, or violent reaction; produce uncontrolled toxic mists, fumes, dusts, or gases in quantities that threaten human health; produce uncontrollable flammable fumes or gases that may pose a risk of fire or explosions; damage the structural integrity of the device or facility containing the waste; or through other means threaten human health or the environment (40 CFR 265.177, 40 CFR 265.17(b)).
- Hazardous waste must not be placed in an unwashed container that previously held an incompatible waste or material (unless certain conditions are met) (40 CFR 265.177(b), 265.17(b)).
- A storage container holding a hazardous waste that is incompatible with any waste or other materials stored nearby in other containers, piles, open tanks, or surface impoundments must be separated from the other materials or protected from them by means of a dike, berm, wall or other device (40 CFR 265.177(c)).
- Hazardous waste must be managed in accordance with applicable air emissions standards for process vents; equipment leaks; and tanks, surface impoundments, and containers specified in subparts AA, BB, and CC of 40 CFR 265 (40 CFR 265.178). [This does not apply to SQGs.]
- Containers of hazardous waste must be clearly labeled with the words "Hazardous Waste" (40 CFR 262.34(a)(3)).
- Each container must be clearly and visibly marked with the date when hazardous waste was first placed in the container (40 CFR 262.34(a)(2)).
- A large-quantity-generator facility must have a preparedness, prevention and contingency plan (PPC plan) that covers hazardous waste management (40 CFR 262.34(a)(4), 265.51). Although this requirement does not apply to small-quantity-generator facilities, SQGs must comply with the preparedness and prevention requirements of 40 CFR 265, Subpart C. Preparation and maintenance of a written plan is desirable to facilitate compliance with the preparedness and prevention requirements.
- The facility must have a formal training program for personnel responsible for managing hazardous waste (40 CFR 262.34(a)(4), 265.16). [This does not apply to SQGs. However, SQGs still have obligations under 40 CFR 262.34(d)(5) for having an emergency coordinator on premises or on call, posting response information next to the telephone, and ensuring that all employees are familiar with waste handling and emergency procedures.]
CESQG facilities may not store more than 1,000 kilograms of hazardous waste for more than 180 days without a hazardous waste facility permit (40 CFR 261.5(g)(2)). The hazardous waste regulations contain no requirements for CESQG facilities storing hazardous waste in a quantity less than 1,000 kilograms (no maximum time limit for storage) or for a period less than 180 days.
Emergency Preparedness and Response
Facilities designated as SQGs storing hazardous waste must comply with the following "Preparedness and Prevention" requirements (40 CFR 262.34(d)(5)):
- At all times, at least one employee with responsibility for coordinating emergency response measures must be either at the facility or on call and able to reach the facility in a short time (40 CFR 262.34(d)(5)(i)). This employee is the "emergency coordinator."
- The following information must be posted next to telephones (40 CFR 262.34(d)(5)(ii)):
-- The name and telephone number of the emergency coordinator
-- Locations of fire extinguishers, spill control material and the fire alarm
-- The telephone number of the fire department, unless the facility has a direct alarm
- All employees must be thoroughly familiar with the proper waste-handling and emergency-response procedures that are relevant to their responsibilities (40 CFR 262.34(d)(5)(iii)).
- The facility must have the following equipment, unless this equipment would not be needed to control the hazards posed by the waste at the facility (40 CFR 265.32):
-- An internal communication or alarm system (voice or signal)
-- Telephones or a hand-held, two way radio at locations where hazardous waste is used or stored
-- Appropriate fire-control, spill-control and decontamination equipment
-- An adequate volume of water for fire fighting
- All equipment listed above must be tested and maintained as necessary to ensure that it will function properly in time of emergency (40 CFR 265.33).
- Personnel handling hazardous waste must have immediate access to an internal alarm or emergency communication device (40 CFR 265.34(a)). An employee working alone on the premises must have immediate access to a means of summoning external emergency assistance (40 CFR 265.34(b)).
- Aisle space must be maintained to allow the unobstructed movement of personnel, fire protection equipment, spill control equipment, and decontamination equipment to any area of facility operation in an emergency, unless aisle space is not needed for any of these purposes (40 CFR 265.35).
- To the extent warranted by type of hazardous waste handled at the facility and the potential need for emergency services, the generator must attempt to familiarize police, fire departments and emergency-response teams with facility operations and the wastes handled at the facility. They also must attempt to familiarize local hospitals with the properties of the waste and the injuries and illnesses that could result from fire, explosion or waste discharge at the facility (40 CFR 265.37).
- The emergency coordinator or a person designated by the emergency coordinator must:
- In the event of a fire, call the fire department or attempt to extinguish the fire using a fire extinguisher (40 CFR 262.34(d)(5)(iv)(A)).
- In the event of a spill, contain the flow of hazardous waste to the extent possible and clean up the waste and any contaminated materials or soil as soon as possible (40 CFR 262.34(d)(5)(iv)(B)).
- In the event of a fire, an explosion, a spill that has reached surface water, or any other release that could threaten the health of people outside the facility, immediately notify the National Response Center (NRC) at 800-424-8802. The following information must be provided: the name, address, and identification number of the generator; the type of incident and the date and time of the incident; the type and quantity of hazardous waste involved; a description of any injuries; the quantity of materials recovered and the disposition of the materials. (40 CFR 262.34(d)(5)(iv)(C))
In addition, hazardous waste generators who experience a release of a "hazardous substance" under the Comprehensive Environmental Response Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA) or an "extremely hazardous substance" under the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA), including hazardous waste streams that meet these definitions, must report such releases. Reportable quantities for hazardous substances are given in 40 CFR 302. Reportable quantities for extremely hazardous substances are given in 40 CFR Part 355, Parts A and B. Facilities must notify State Emergency Response Committees (SERC) and Local Emergency Planning Committees (LEPCs) immediately of releases that go beyond the facility boundaries and provide subsequent written notification and/or follow up to the releases. For CERCLA and EPCRA releases that stay within the facility boundaries, then only the NRC must be notified (see previous paragraph).
Contingency Plans for Large Quantity Generators
In addition to complying with the Preparedness and Prevention requirements of 40 CFR 265, Subpart C, LQG facilities must meet the following requirements for contingency plans:
The facility must develop a contingency plan that is designed to minimize hazards to people and the environment from fires, explosions, and releases of hazardous waste or constituents of hazardous waste (40 CFR 262.34(a)(4), 265.51(a)).
The plan must be implemented whenever there is a fire, explosion or release of hazardous waste or hazardous waste consitituents which could threaten human health or the environment. (40 CFR 265.51(b))
The hazardous waste contingency plan must address the following elements (40 CFR 265.52):
- Actions facility must take to respond to fires, explosions, or any unplanned sudden or non-sudden release of hazardous waste or hazardous waste constituents to air, soil, or surface water.
- If a Spill Prevention Control and Countermeasures Plan or another contingency plan has been prepared by the facility, then that plan only need be amended to incorporate the hazardous waste management provisions of this part.
- A description of the arrangements agreed to by local police departments, fire departments, hospitals, contractors, and state and local emergency response teams to coordinate emergency services.
- Current names, addresses and phone numbers (home and office) of all persons qualified to act as emergency coordinator; primary and alternate emergency coordinators must be identified whenever more than one person is listed; others must be listed in order of which they will assume responsibility.
- An up-to-date list of all emergency equipment at the facility and decontamination equipment (where this is required), including the location and a physical description of each item and an outline of its capabilities.
- An evacuation plan for facility personnel where there is a possibility that evacuation could be necessary, including signals to be used to begin evacuation, evacuation routes, and alternate evacuation routes.
Copies of the contingency plan and all revisions to the plan must be kept at the facility. In addition, copies of the contingency plan must be submitted to all local police, fire departments, hospitals, and emergency response teams that may be called upon to provide emergency services (40 CFR 265.53).
The plan must be reviewed and immediately amended if necessary whenever (40 CFR 265.54):
- The facility permit is revised
- The plan fails in an emergency
- The facility changes in a way that materially increases the potential for fires, explosions, or releases of hazardous wastes or hazardous waste constituents, or changes the response necessary in an emergency
- The list of emergency coordinators or the list of emergency equipment changes
At all times, there must be at least one employee either at the facility or on call (i.e., able to reach the facility in a short time) who has responsibility for coordinating all emergency response measures. This employee is the emergency coordinator. The emergency coordinator must be thoroughly familiar with all aspects of the facility's contingency plan, all operations and activities at the facility, the location and characteristics of waste stored or handled, the location of all records at the facility, and the facility layout. In addition, this person must have the authority to commit the resources needed to carry out the contingency plan. (40 CFR 265.55)
Procedures for alarm activation; released material characterization; assessment of the hazards of the material to either human health or the environment; if necessary, reporting to state or local agencies and the National Response Center; released material containment; monitoring leaks, pressure buildup, etc.; recovered waste management; and cleaning of emergency equipment prior to reuse. (40 CFR 265.56)
The facility must ensure that implementation of the contingency plan is fully noted in the operating log. (40 CFR 265.56)
For the complete text of the regulations (40 CFR 261, 262, 265, 273, 302 and 355; and 49 CFR 172), click here:
40 CFR 261
40 CFR 262
40 CFR 265
40 CFR 273
40 CFR 302
40 CFR 355
49 CFR 172